Why Observance of September 13th Should Not be Opposed
By Samuel Singsit
Mankind has different ways of remembering dates. The Americans remember 9/11 in a different way, the Japanese remember 6/08 differently, and the Jews remember the “Yom Hashoah” dates in yet another way. These are a few among thousands of such incidents which will never be forgotten in the history of mankind. These incidents took place under varied political, economical and sociological conditions, and yet they have one thing in common which is mass massacre of human beings.
Of all tragedies I can remember, the Jews Holocaust stands out unique, never in the history of mankind, genocide was carried out on a particular community with such intensity and frequency. Jews were killed just because they were Jews, neither because they did something wrong nor because their properties were envied.
One can sense a huge degree of parallelism between the Holocaust and the Zoupi genocide, which even after 19 long years still haunts the people of Manipur in general and the Kuki community in particular. One such parallelism is both tragedies trace back its genesis to the heart of a dictator, whose intention was probably to quench an ego or enjoy the sufferings and servitude of a fellow human, or for some mere political or economic objectives.
Whatever it be the reason, genocide is genocide and there cannot be any better or worse victim, a victim is a victim. The other aspect is the specificity to a particular community, in Zoupi’s case, the Kuki community.
Today the Kukis mourn and remember September 13th in yet a different way, while the perpetrators roam with impunity. It is even hard to swallow because the incident took place right under the nose of the largest democracy in the world, boasting of its determinations to promote justice and fraternity. Flashing back to 19 years before present, on this very day, Naga armed insurgents intercepted a group of Kuki civilians of Zoupi village and butchered 90 people, with their hands tied behind, women and babies included. The cold reminiscence of the ugly tragedy still visits the people of Manipur on this day every year.
One is compelled to wonder what possibly could be the reason the perpetrators assorted to such an inhuman act. Could it be a vengeance of an untold past incident? Could it be just one of those ugly tactics to draw attention for some political demand? Or could it be a show of supremacy or muscle power? There could not be a better person than the very person(s) who masterminds the act to answer these questions which still lingers in the minds of every one.
Having said that, the afterthought of the perpetrators is still a mystery. Do they still consider themselves hero? Are they ready to apologize and accept that what they did was uncalled for, or is there any guarantee that such an incident will not happen again in future?
While the act is deplorable in the highest degree, cultivating the same seed of hatred in the minds of innocents should be the last thing we should wish. Three Kuki organisations came out open in the press appealing the people to forgive and forget the past and stop observing the black day (September 13). The initiative is highly appreciated, while it is flabbergasting that they missed the very fact that incidents in history are lessons for our present and future generations, they are the milestones to build and mould our future, they are the strong and formidable foundations on our path to foster peace and brotherhood in this context.
The Zoupi incident is not something which should be buried away under the sand of time. On the contrary, it should be remembered as a symbol of inhumanity and that such an inhuman act does not have a place in a civilized human world. I believe there is every reason for the people of Manipur in particular and the people of India in general irrespective of caste, creed, and religion to mourn for the victims of Zoupi massacre for we do not know who will be the ‘Zoupis’ of the next genocide of such intensity.
It may well descend upon any individual or community. The September 13th should be declared a state day so that Zoupi massacre will not be a “precedent” but served as the “omega” of such inhuman act and pray that such atrocities should not come upon mankind again in future.
Black September should not be remembered as a day of hatred or vengeance but as a day of peace and brotherhood. It is rather embarrassing to see that it is considered a ‘black day’ for the Kuki community only, while it is a black mark in the history of Manipur and India. The civil society irrespective of Manipuris, Nagas and Kukis should come forward and pray for the victims so that their souls rest in peace.
This day should be utilized as an opportunity to ask the almighty God to forgive those daring humans who butchered his most valued creation human being, way beyond the limit, another human would have the courage to even look at, for it is a tragedy which none would ever wish even for his most bitter enemy. We should realize the enemies of the Kukis are not Manipuris or Nagas or vice versa, but our common enemy is poverty, illiteracy, and underdevelopment. The day should be used as a launch pad to send out a strong message that the common man’s need of bread, clothes and shelters can be fulfilled only through peace and brotherhood.
And for now, black september or not , the wailings of the Zoupi victims will continue to linger in the hearts of many for years to come and it is our only hope and prayer that such incident does not descend upon mankind again.
The writer is a freelancer based in Manipur, India.